GREEN BAY – The Packers have dismissed the revenge storyline all week.
Here’s another one they’ll disregard.
NFC title-game losers are on a bad streak when trying to turn the tables on their conqueror the following year.
The last eight times there’s been a rematch of an NFC title game the very next season, the defending conference champion has prevailed. That eight-game run includes the Packers beating the Bears twice in 2011, and the Seahawks beating the 49ers twice in 2014.
You have to go all the way back to 2005 to find an NFC runner-up successfully exacting revenge, or whatever you want to call it. That’s when the Atlanta Falcons knocked off the Philadelphia Eagles in Week 1, their first game since losing in Philly eight months prior with a bid to Super Bowl XXXIX at stake.
That was a long time ago, but does it mean anything? Of course not.
It’s a streak that makes little sense, considering in that same decade-long span, AFC title-game losers are 9-2 in next-year re-dos. Heck, the Baltimore Ravens flipped the script on the New England Patriots not once but twice in 2012, beating them in the regular season and then in an actual conference championship rematch.
Statistical anomalies like that – good, bad, indifferent or curious – are fun to talk about, but that’s it. They’ll have no bearing on the outcome of Sunday’s Packers-Seahawks showdown at Lambeau Field, no more than hamming up the revenge angle is going to help Green Bay win this time.
In that regard, the best line of the week came from Clay Matthews. “It’s not as if we win this game, all is forgotten,” he said.
Definitely not, and that’s the best reason of all to believe the Packers are taking the right approach in their “new year, new opportunity” mantra.
The Ravens were obviously euphoric when they finally got past the Patriots to win the AFC title three years ago, but it’s not as though that victory made Baltimore’s players feel any better about Lee Evans’ dropped pass and Billy Cundiff’s shanked kick in the waning moments the year before.
Even if the Packers do the same thing as the Ravens and beat the Seahawks both in the regular season and playoffs to get to the Super Bowl, it doesn’t change anything about last January and the late-game meltdown. Those are chances you don’t get back.
The best the Packers can do this week is to focus on the here and now, as they’re insisting, and maybe think a little about the potential implications. A win over the Seahawks would make Green Bay 2-0 and Seattle 0-2, which wouldn’t be insignificant.
If the Packers were to win Sunday on their way to an NFC North title with, let’s say, a 12-4 record just like last year, it would mean the Seahawks would have to go 13-1 over their final 14 games for any possible postseason rematch take place in Seattle.
Now that might actually mean something.
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